Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis)Description: Garter Snakes are very active diurnal snakes that spend a lot of their time in the water fishing for food. They come in a variety of colors and sizes and are a very hardy species that is also very docile. These combined factors make the Garter snake an easy pet to raise and handle. Garter Snakes are found in the wild almost everywhere in the United States. They are also found in Mexico. Garter snakes can reach an overall length of up to four feet, but they average 15 Ė 30 inches in length and can live for more than fifteen years in captivity.Habitat and Tank Requirements: Garter Snakes can handle temperature changes very well. They should have a gradient tank setup with a minimum temperature of 65 degrees and a maximum of 85 degrees. They require a water dish that they can immerse themselves fully into. Cypress, coconut husk, newspaper, or potting soil (organic) can all be used as a substrate. Garter Snakes also like to hide under dead leaves if available. Do not allow the dead leaves to come in contact with the water dish though, or youíll have a gooey mess! Garter Snakes like to swim in the water dish, but they also like to climb so provide them with climbing rocks and sticks. Most Garter Snakes do well in a 20 gallon long enclosure with a locking lid. You can house multiple Garter Snakes together without complications.Lighting: Special lighting is not necessary, but Garter Snakes prefer a 14 hour light to 10 hour dark cycle. Try and keep on a consistent schedule to reduce stress on your snake.Diet: Garter Snakes are carnivorous and will eat anything that is moving and they can swallow. They prefer live fish, pinkie mice, night crawlers, newts, toads, frogs, and even canned cat food or canned fish. They need to be fed often, up to four times per week. Guppies make good meals for the Garter Snakes because they can chase them in their water dish, eat them, and they are inexpensive. You should start feeding your Garter Snake pinkie mice as soon as possible because they have a great nutritive value and help the snakes grow faster and healthier.Handling: Garter Snakes are calm and gentle and typically are easy to handle. Remember that when you first get your snake it may take some time for it to get used to its new house and surroundings. Itís best not to rush into picking it up and trying to handle it too much until it has had an opportunity to acclimatize.
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